What to expect at a Bail Hearing in Ontario
Once someone is arrested and charged with a criminal offence, they are either released back into the community or held in custody until their court date. If the person is held in custody, they must have a bail hearing in front of a judge. We have compiled a brief overview of bail hearings in Ontario.
Being granted bail is a court order that allows an accused person to remain in the community while their case is being processed through the court system. A bail hearing is not the same as a trial because the judge is not deciding whether the accused person is guilty or innocent. Instead, the judge at a bail hearing decides whether the accused person should remain in custody or be released into the community. The accused only gets one bail hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice.
If the Crown prosecutor wants the accused to remain, they must explain why the accused should not be released back into the community on the least strict type of release, which is an undertaking without conditions. An undertaking without conditions allows the accused to be released into custody with a promise to return for their court date.
At the hearing, the Crown prosecutor can either consent to the accused’s release subject to specific conditions or can oppose the release. If the Crown wants an accused to follow other conditions upon release, they must explain to the judge why those conditions are appropriate. Some conditions that can be included in a bail order include:
· No-contact with the complainant. For example, if a person is the victim of domestic violence, the bail conditions may say that the accused is not allowed to contact the victim;
· Abstaining from drugs and alcohol;
· Weapons prohibitions; and
· Restricting access to the children of a complainant.
In order for the court to believe that the conditions will be met, the accused may be required to provide a surety. A surety is a person who is responsible for ensuring that the accused follows the conditions of their bail. The surety is typically also liable for an amount of money and if the accused breaches their bail conditions, the surety loses that money. A surety is responsible until the accused goes to trial or has their charges settled.
In certain cases, an accused person will need to justify why they should be released into the community, which is known as a “reverse onus”. Some situations where a reverse onus bail hearing may occur include:
· Where the accused was already released and committed a different crime;
· Where the accused was released and did not follow the conditions of their bail order; or
Where the accused is facing serious criminal charges.
If a person is denied bail, they will have to remain in custody until the case goes to trial, is resolved or they are subsequently released after a bail review in the Superior Court of Justice.
If you are looking for more information about bail hearings, do not hesitate to contact us and our specialist Criminal Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.